TEMPERANCE -- The Bedford Township Board has approved two applications for grants that would be used to improve Ansted Community Park.
The applications to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are for grants worth $56,500 each, but the township is eligible to receive only one or the other. The township should hear by year's end if it has been awarded a grant.
A grant would pay for half the $113,000 cost of extending the new 0.5-mile hiking trail at Ansted to 1.35 miles. The other half of the cost would be borne locally. To meet its share, the township would use $38,000 remaining from its expired park-improvement levy and unspent money from the park commission's 2011-12 budget.
Last month, the board approved the park commission's five-year plan as a prerequisite to applying for the grants. The plan includes improvements the park commission would like to make if funds become available.
These include a sledding hill and fishing pond as well as more paved parking and trail work for 2014 at Ansted, a splash-and-spray facility at White Park in 2015, and cross-country ski trails and an archery range at Indian Creek Park in 2016. All projects are contingent on grants and the township's budget situation.
For 2013, the plan calls for a disc golf course, restrooms, picnic areas, and an outdoor ice rink at Ansted, but these improvements are far from certain because of a lack of funds. Ansted, Bedford's newest park, is on the east side of Lewis Avenue north of Erie Road.
The township owns and operates three other major parks: Carr's Grove, Parmelee, and Samaria. The park budget of $154,000 comes mostly from the township's general fund; voters rejected a 0.3-mill request for park improvements twice in 2006. The parks have some income from rentals and make $1,400 a month from a cell-phone tower in Carr's Grove.
New to Ansted are a sign, a parking lot for 20 vehicles, and a half-mile walking trail.
In other business last week, the board approved placing a replacement of the township's 1-mill fire levy on the Aug. 7 ballot.
The current levy, which pays for fire department operations, equipment, and other capital expenditures, expires at year's end. It also is for 1 mill, but Michigan's Headlee rollback has reduced its effective rate to 0.898 mill.
The four-year replacement levy would generate about $960,000 in its first year and cost the owner of a house with a $100,000 taxable value about $100, or $10 more than the homeowner currently pays.